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Montville Township VFW Post 5481 presented awards to essay winners from Robert R. Lazar Middle School and Montville Township High School during the December 6, 2022, Montville Township Public Schools Board of Education meeting.
Veteran Joe Coll, who is the Montville Township VFW Essay Committee Chairman, and VFW Post 5481 Commander Ken Hanzl presented framed certificates and cash prizes to the winning students.
Three Lazar 8th grade students and two MTHS seniors and an MTHS junior were honored for Patriot's Pen & Voice of Democracy contests, respectively.
The Patriot’s Pen competition is based on a written essay that addresses the annual theme.
Lahari Thata, of Lazar, received 1st Place in the Patriot’s Pen competition. This year’s theme was “My Pledge to Our Veterans.” Following the presentation of a certificate and cash prize, Thata was invited to read her winning essay for the Montville Township Board of Education and the community at large. Thata’s essay will now be judged at the district level. If it receives the top prize at that level the essay may move on to the county, state and national levels.
Also receiving awards in the Patriot’s Pen middle school category were Emily Chen and Samantha Reger who were awarded the second and third place titles.
Aarav Mulinti, a junior, received the first place award in the Voice of Democracy competition. Mulinti received second place last year in the same completion.
Voice of Democracy essays are presented to the judges as recorded essays. Judges receive only the audio. This year’s Voice of Democracy theme was “Why is the Veteran Important?”
Mulinti was also invited to read his winning essay out loud for the Board of Education and community at large.
Mulinti’s essay will move on to the next level for judging.
Seniors Ramamurty Pantula and Sunay Hedge were awarded second and third in the Voice of democracy category.
Commander Ken Hanzl thanked the award winners for their participation and wished the first place winners the best of luck as their essays move forward in the competition.
Hanzl also thanked the teachers, administrators, and Board of Education for the outstanding support VFW Post 5481 receives from Montville Township Public Schools.
“The support we get is just amazing,” Hanzl said.
Following the ceremony, the essay winners from both contests posed for photos with the VFW representatives and members of the Montville Township Board of Education. Pictured are: Joe Coll, VFW, Essay Chair; Dr. Thomas Gorman, Superintendent of Montville Township Public Schools; Lahari Thata, grade 8, 1st Place; Aarav Mulinti, juniot, 1st Place; Sunay Hedge, senior, 3rd; Ramamurty Pantula, senior, 2nd; Ken Hanzl, VFW Commander; Samantha Reger, grade 8, 3rd; Emily Chen, grade 8, 2nd; and veteran Michael Palma, Montville Township Board of Education, Vice President.
Video of the proceedings can be viewed on the Montville Township Public Schools YouTube Channel.
The reading of Lahari Thata’s full Patriot’s Pen essay begins at 0:24.
Aarav Mulinti’s full essay reading begins at 4:44.